As fake football owners gently hit their pillows on Saturday night, many of them dreamed sweet dreams of their newest, shiny waiver wire pickup, Ronnie Hillman. The dynamic rookie was the heir to the Denver backfield duties after Willis McGahee was lost for the season, and was poised for a strong fantasy stretch run. Shortly after the rooster’s crow on Sunday morning, those sweet dreams were dashed news that the Broncos were handing the running back privileges to none other than fantasy wallflower, Knowshon Moreno. Fake footballers gasped, “Was this really true? Hillman would still be involved right? Passing downs? Anything?” After Denver topped Kansas City 17-9, the answer was clear. The Denver backs top the list of notable Sunday performances below in our week 12 recap…
Knowshon Moreno: As if Mike Shanahan never left Denver, the Broncos gave the fantasy world a rude awakening on Sunday morning, as they announced Moreno would start against Kansas City. Moreno turned 20 carries into 85 yards and was the only Broncos back to get a target in the passing game (4 targets, 4 catches), while Hillman received a measly 3 carries. Moreno has a nice playoff schedule (@OAK, @BAL, vsCLE) so get him if he is still floating around on your league’s waiver wire lazy river. These types of opportunistic pickups often make huge impacts on fantasy playoff runs (anyone remember Jerome Harrison?).
Matt Ryan: Matthew J. Ice bounced back from his five-pack of week 11 picks in decent fashion, as he ended up with 353 yards and a score. Ryan’s day could have been much bigger, but both Rodgers and Turner sniped red zone touchdowns that are generally reserved for fades to Julio Jones. Atlanta now gets New Orleans on Thursday, who allowed Ryan to huck the rock for 411 yards and 3 scores in week 10. Saddle up.
Colin Kaepernick: Kaepernick was average in the passing department on Sunday, but made his fantasy day a good one, as he added 27 yards rushing and a touchdown. The 49ers will most likely stick with the youngster, and @STL, vsMIA, @NE is a nice slate of upcoming contests. If you snagged Kaepernick off the wire last week, you have just won yourself a high end QB2/low end QB1 for the rest of the fake football stretch run. Pop that champagne!
Vernon Davis: A week after catching 6 passes for 83 yards and declaring that the “handcuffs were removed,” big Vern went back into solitary confinement as he caught ZERO passes on ONE target (the words in caps are meant to be yelled at maximum volume). Start him at your own risk no matter who is at quarterback for the 9ers.
Eli Manning: Apparently a bye week of playing Nintendo Wii and eating Hot Pockets was exactly what little Manning needed, as he got back in the groove against Green Bay. Eli’s 249 yards and 3 scores marked his highest yardage total since week 7 and highest TD count since week 5. The Giants finish with a very friendly schedule all the way through fantasy title week, so hopefully this version of Eli sticks around.
Steven Jackson: SJax is quietly (did we not notice, or not care about the Rams?) coming alive in the latter stages of the season, as he racked up 139 rushing yards on Sunday. Jackson is now averaging 107 yards per game over his last three games, and is appearing to be a trustworthy back once again after not topping 76 yards rushing in St. Louis’ first eight games. A date with San Francisco is on deck, but remember, Jackson gashed them for 127 total yards in week 10, so the start may be better than it appears.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis: BGE had himself a nice little Sunday with 129 yards and a touchdown. This makes back to back solid weeks for the Bengals sluggish running back, but it is still hard to trust a back who failed to top 4 yards per carry in weeks 2-10. If you need him, keep rolling him out, but don’t let these two performances make you play him over a better option, as BGE is a product of workload and his teammates getting tackled at the one yard line.
Ray Rice: Rice’s game saving rumble was quite the play, but leave that for the real football folks to digest. The meat of Rice’s fantasy talent lies in his receiving skills, where he received a whopping NINE targets this week (catching 8 for 67 yards). 164 total yards for Sweet Baby Ray as he topped 30 touches for the first time this season, which is a trend I certainly hope we see more of.
Pittsburgh RBs: Prior to Sunday, it appeared that Mendenhall was the sentimental favorite, Dwyer the most successful, Redman the plodder, and Rainey the distant backup in the Pittsburgh backfield. After all four Steeler running backs lost fumbles on Sunday, the entire situation is a tangled web of turnovers. Dwyer and Rainey got the most touches, but Mike Tomlin has one very crowded doghouse. Stay clear of this backfield.
Jalen Parmele: J-Parm (is that what the kids are calling him?) was in and out of Sunday’s game with a leg injury, but ended up with 45 yards on 8 carries (5.6 ypc). Wait to see what the reports on his injury look like, but he does have a gravy matchup next week (@BUF) if you are the ultimate gambler.
Julio Jones: If you visited The Fake Football’s Week 12 War Room, you witnessed “Julio Hysteria,” as the nicked up wide out created lineup issues galore. Thankfully, the kind folks here at TFF guided everyone toward their shining star receiver and he paid them handsomely with 147 yards and a score. The ankle looks fine, and New Orleans’ buttery soft defense is on deck.
Chris Givens: With Amendola limited, Givens took advantage with 115 yards and a touchdown. Givens is a solid deep threat and can be a nice plug-in option if Danny boy misses any more time.
Cecil Shorts: It appears that the man they call “Shorts” cannot be contained by mortal defenders. No matter if Gabbert, Henne, or Mark Brunell is at quarterback for the Jags, Cecil will continue his tear. Sunday’s 105 and a score give Shorts a six game average of over 90 yards per game and 4 touchdowns. Ladies and gents, your newest WR2!
Mohamed Sanu: The Bengals rookie isn’t racking up much yardage (154 yards in 5 games), but the man is a red zone hog. Sanu snared 2 touchdowns Sunday, giving him 4 in 3 weeks as opposing defenses tremble at the thought of A.J. Green catching back shoulder fade routes. Still a risky WR3, but worth a roster spot.
Charles Clay: Let’s get this out of the way. “WHO?!?” Ok, Chuck Clay is a Miami tight end that also qualifies at running back in some fantasy formats. Clay caught all 6 targets on Sunday for 84 yards and a score against the much hyped Seattle secondary. Don’t blow a top waiver priority on him, but add him to your watch list.
Rob Housler: The Cards tight end hauled in 8 catches on an impressive 11 targets for 82 yards on Sunday against St. Louis. Though not worth rostering quite yet, it is always worth keeping an eye on players who are heavily targeted after a quarterback change.
Brandon Marshall: After surviving a week without his homeboy Jay, Marshall was rewarded with 17, yes 17, targets on Sunday as Cutler returned from a concussion. After stacking up 12 grabs and 92 yards, Marshall is now over 1,000 yards for the year to go with 8 touchdowns. After Megatron and the Green Monster, Marshall is as good as they come in the world of fantasy receivers.